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Ali Base service members experience piece of history

ALI BASE, Iraq – A Soldier looks into the dark ruins of a royal tomb Feb. 9, near the Great Ziggurat of Ur.  The tombs were built more than 4,000 years ago in the Sumerian city of Ur in ancient Mesopotamia, near present-day An Nasiriyah, Iraq.  Members of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group Chaplains Office offer three tours weekly of the Ziggurat and ruins of the city of Ur.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

ALI BASE, Iraq – A Soldier looks into the dark ruins of a royal tomb Feb. 9, near the Great Ziggurat of Ur. The tombs were built more than 4,000 years ago in the Sumerian city of Ur in ancient Mesopotamia, near present-day An Nasiriyah, Iraq. Members of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group Chaplains Office offer three tours weekly of the Ziggurat and ruins of the city of Ur. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

ALI BASE, Iraq – Staff Sgt. Ariel Sauvey, 407th Expeditionary Operation Support Squadron, takes in the view of the ruins of King Shulgi’s palace from atop the Great Ziggurat of Ur Feb. 9. The Ziggurat construction was finished in the 21st century B.C. by King Shulgi in the ancient city of Ur, which is near An Nasiriyah in present-day Iraq. Members of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group Chaplains Office offer three tours weekly of the Ziggurat and ruins of the city of Ur.  Sergeant Sauvey is deployed to Ali from the 78th Operation Support Squadron, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., and hails from Greenville, Ohio.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

ALI BASE, Iraq – Staff Sgt. Ariel Sauvey, 407th Expeditionary Operation Support Squadron, takes in the view of the ruins of King Shulgi’s palace from atop the Great Ziggurat of Ur Feb. 9. The Ziggurat construction was finished in the 21st century B.C. by King Shulgi in the ancient city of Ur, which is near An Nasiriyah in present-day Iraq. Members of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group Chaplains Office offer three tours weekly of the Ziggurat and ruins of the city of Ur. Sergeant Sauvey is deployed to Ali from the 78th Operation Support Squadron, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., and hails from Greenville, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

ALI BASE, Iraq – The Great Ziggurat of Ur stands after 4,000 years near Ali Base, Iraq.  The Ziggurat construction was finished in the 21st century BC by King Shulgi in the ancient Sumerian city of Ur in Mesopotamia, which is near An Nasiriyah in present-day Iraq.  Members of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group Chaplains Office offer three tours weekly of the Ziggurat and ruins of the city of Ur.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

ALI BASE, Iraq – The Great Ziggurat of Ur stands after 4,000 years near Ali Base, Iraq. The Ziggurat construction was finished in the 21st century BC by King Shulgi in the ancient Sumerian city of Ur in Mesopotamia, which is near An Nasiriyah in present-day Iraq. Members of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group Chaplains Office offer three tours weekly of the Ziggurat and ruins of the city of Ur. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

ALI BASE, Iraq – Dhaif Muhsen, Iraq Ministry of Antiquities curator for the Ur site, explains the history behind the oldest known standing archway in the world, located in the ruins of the ancient city of Ur, Feb.9.  The ancient Sumerian city of Ur was located in southern Mesopotamia, which is near An Nasiriyah in present-day Iraq.  Members of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group Chaplains Office offer three tours weekly of the Ziggurat and ruins of the city of Ur.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

ALI BASE, Iraq – Dhaif Muhsen, Iraq Ministry of Antiquities curator for the Ur site, explains the history behind the oldest known standing archway in the world, located in the ruins of the ancient city of Ur, Feb.9. The ancient Sumerian city of Ur was located in southern Mesopotamia, which is near An Nasiriyah in present-day Iraq. Members of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group Chaplains Office offer three tours weekly of the Ziggurat and ruins of the city of Ur. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

ALI BASE, Iraq -- Less than two miles outside the front gate lies an area of historical and biblical significance - a place where the man considered the father of all nations, Abraham, used to call home. This place houses a temple nearby called the Ziggurat of Ur.

The city of Ur (Ur of Chaldeans) is located in southern area of Iraq and was first identified in Genesis 12:28. It is considered the most ancient city within Sumaria and later Babylonia.

The Sumerians were credited with inventing beer, irrigation, the wheel and the first written language.

"The Ziggurat was originally a place of worship for the Sumerians who built it about 4,000 years ago," said Chaplain (Maj.) Kevin Lockett, 407th Air Expeditionary Group chaplain. "This was the place civilization, as we know it, began. This was the time when people evolved from individual families who survived as hunters and gatherers into communities where they relied upon each other as farmers, craftsmen and tradesmen. This was one of the first cities known to exist."

According to Chaplain Lockett, Abraham, the son of a wealthy merchant, was thought to have lived there during his childhood and part of his adulthood before traveling to Canaan.

Now, services members, Department of Defense civilians and contractors have the opportunity to experience that history by taking a tour of the Ziggurat and Abraham's home with 407th AEG Chaplains Office. The tour, which averages about 30 people, began several Air and Space Expeditionary Force cycles ago under the guidance of the Chaplain Corps.

Services members who want to take the tour first have to sign up for an orientation and safety briefing. Briefings are held Mondays at 6:30 p.m. at Bedrock Chapel Annex, a week prior to the tour. Tours are held Sundays and Mondays at 2:30 p.m.

During the tour, service members can expect to visit the Ziggurat of Ur, the oldest-known standing archway in the world, a royal palace and tombs of the members of the third dynasty of Ur, and the home of Abraham. But time is running short.

"We will most likely be discontinuing the tours in March, so people need to get out there and see it," said Chaplain Lockett. "If people can't make the scheduled tour times, we will gladly work with commanders and first sergeants to arrange special tours for squadrons."
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Mission Video

380th Air Expeditionary Wing Mission Video